How The Dallas Cowboys Became a Fantasy Football GoldmineTweet
In 2014, Scott Linehan started in Dallas as the passing game coordinator. That was the golden year for Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and DeMarco Murray. Tony Romo became one of the best quarterback’s that season, but it was almost too late for the star due to being beaten up and injury prone. That’s when they started to rely on the running game more to counteract that with DeMarco Murray also being one of the best running backs that season.
That season ended on an outrageous call that they have now confirmed it was not right, with Dez Bryant’s no catch. DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant decided to give the Cowboy’s an ultimatum after that season with little to no cap room for the Cowboy’s. The Cowboy’s had to franchise tag one of the players. Unfortunately, or fortunately, they choose Dez Bryant. Murray went to the rival team that is the Eagles for a year and then finished his career in Tennessee.
At the time, it was a bad mistake. Murray’s position was more valuable, and Bryant had problems. Bryant still did decent for a short amount of time but was later let go. He wasn’t in his prime and was hurt a lot. After cutting him with the Saint’s signing him the next year only to get hurt in practice the first week, it turned out to be a good move while freeing cap space. But even after Murray left, there was still hope for the Cowboy’s run game because of the offensive line and with Tony Romo still playing with Dez Bryant. This is what promoted Scott Linehan to offensive coordinator and rode out what he did that season for the rest of his career in Dallas.
In 2015, everything fell apart. With Romo being injury prone, it was too late even with a great offensive line. When he played, he did great, but couldn’t take a hit. The run game suffered even with the offensive line with the veteran Darren McFadden struggling to break away. The life of old running backs. Dez Bryant’s problem were being uncovered as well as his injuries.
The Cowboys finished with 4 wins that season, last in the division. They knew something had to be done. They knew Romo was getting old and hurt a lot and they needed a good running back. Everybody was wondering what the hell happened to the season we had last year and what’s going on with Scott Linehan.
Flash forward to the 2016 draft, the Dallas Cowboy’s selected Ezekiel Elliot in the 1st round with their 4th overall pick. There was a lot of hope with some disgruntled cries saying that they should have invested in a defense instead. Obviously, they made the right decision, kind of (all depending on your opinion on the recent contract deal with Elliot). Dak Prescott was also selected in the 4th round as the 135-overall pick. This was a draft class that came out of nowhere.
Prescott was originally a 4th string quarterback behind Kellen Moore until he broke his right tibia. Jameill Showers was ahead of him as the backup for Romo. But that later changed after the preseason. Prescott was looked at as the better quarterback during the preseason and was moved to 2nd string. On top of that, Romo was injured with a vertebral compression fracture in the week 3 preseason game against the Seahawks. He was going to be out for 8-10 weeks. That made Dak Prescott the starter, and everybody was worried.
There was a reason why I also said fortunately when it came down to who the Cowboys would franchise tag that season. Because if they did franchise tag Murray, the 2016 draft class and the 2016 season would probably be completely different. Because during that season, Ezekiel Elliot became the rushing leader with 1631 yards on the season and Dak Prescott was a very effective quarterback with being awarded as the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year. They took the Cowboy’s to the playoff to almost win a game against the Green Bay Packers, almost payback from the 2014 season. No Cowboy fans have seen a season like this since 2014 and the Troy Aikman triplet days. Cowboys won as the favorite for even next year and again, Scott Linehan rode out this season as well. Nobody could see the problems with 2 winning seasons with the veteran coach.
Skip to the next season, and distractions killed the mojo. Ezekiel Elliot was suspended for most of the season for domestic violence even though it was not 100% confirmed. That case had a lot of holes and ruined the season for Elliot. Dak Prescott couldn’t make it happen like last season. That’s when Dez Bryant was starting to hurt production and his health was declining. Cowboys finished with 9 wins on the season, second in the division. They almost made it to the playoff but were eliminated after losing to the Seahawks at home. Again, fans were wondering again what happened.
Cowboy’s struggled again in the first half of the 2018 season, but everything changed when Amari Cooper was acquired from the Raiders. With Dez Bryant being let go after last season and Jason Witten going into “retirement”, there was no deep threat receiver until Cooper came. The offence found a new fire and a spark was ignited. It was enough to get them to the playoff’s until losing to the Seahawks once again.
There was something to be said about Dak Prescott. He did get the Cowboy’s to the playoffs for 2 seasons’ out of the 3 he started. Elliot was also an important asset relieving pressure from Prescott and continued to be a top 5 running back. But the fan’s, Jerry Jones, and Jason Garrett knew it wasn’t good enough to have a decent season every other year and/or lose in the playoff’s every year. Something had to change, and it came down to the offensive coordinator. Eventually Linehan was let go.
Kellen Moore called quits after 2017, only playing 5 years in the leauge as a backup quarterback. He wanted to stay with the organization and became an important mentor for Dak Prescott as a quarterback’s coach. Garrett was impressed with Prescott’s improvements and moved him to offensive coordinator in the beginning of this year. Garrett is also on the chopping block and needed to make a Hail Mary move.
Turns out, it was one of the best decisions Jason Garrett has made so far. What’s ironic is most of the coaching staff on the offensive side used to play for the Cowboys with Garrett being the back up for Troy Aikman back in the day, Kellen Moore as former backup for Romo, and Jon Kinta as the new quarterback coach who also used to be backup for Romo. ‘
This new balanced offense is much like the offence we used to see with Troy Aikman, Michael Irving, and Emmit Smith. Week one was more pass heavy with Elliot trying to get back into things after a long contract holdout. But Last week we saw Elliot get back into things with 111 yards and a touchdown. Dak Prescott has been very consistent under his new offence with being a top 5 quarterback for 2 weeks in a row and being on the cover of Sports Illustrated. This has been the best start of the Cowboy’s and Dak Prescott since the 90’s. This is a high caliber offence and getting notice from Cowboy haters such a Stephen A. Smith.
Now what does this mean for fantasy purposes? Obviously, this is a team to pick up this year. Prescott is on a streak with no signs of slowing down and Elliot is on track to getting back to his rookie numbers. Not only that, but the receiving core has never been better or this deep with every player a must look. From WR1 to WR3, from Amari Cooper to even comeback player from torn ACL’s Devin Smith. The defense has a lot of young talent as well which as been the Cowboy’s weakest in the last decade. Defiantly pick ups with leauge that have IDP’s or a defense. They are off to a slow start, but they have held their opponents to half of what they have scored so far. Saying all this, the future is still unknown.
Obviously, it’s the beginning of the season and a lot can happen. The Cowboy’s have yet to face a hard matchup. Not only that, this is still Kellen Moore’s first year as offensive coordinator. Scott Linehan’s first year started off the same way as a coordinator of some sort but became inconsistent. There is hope though because Moore has showed the depth in the Cowboys’ offense while Linehan did not. The Cowboys can have a great season this year, but the real battle will be consistency which if they do not have a great season, it can hurt the players production value and fantasy value directly. These are things to keep in mind for people in dynasty leagues and keeper leagues. But if they can keep playing like this every year, they can have the same effect Brady and any Patriots player does in fantasy, by being a high draft pick every year.
How The Dallas Cowboys Became a Fantasy Football GoldmineTweet